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Letting Linda Go. By Bruce Harris.




Well, well. Linda, my old friend. Malcolm’s Little Helper, though not, I’m afraid, for much longer. I expect you knew this moment was coming. How long is it now? So long I should maybe present you with a bloody clock or something. Nearly fifteen years, I make it. OMG. Still, as the Frenchman says at breakfast, un oeuf is un oeuf, eh? I suppose all the do-gooders would be appalled at the idea of doing this by e-mail, but at least we can set a tone, can’t we, not let things get so morbidly serious? And, for me, there’s more dignity in giving us the chance to say what we have to say in print without public embarrassments and slanging matches. People meet, people work together, people move on. Way of the world.

You’ll want reasons, I don’t doubt, clues about where it is you’ve failed or not done the job. And that’s difficult to pin down. It’s an old line, I know, and maybe more suitable for lovers – not that we were ever going to be that, my Helen’s the only gal for me, which is why I married her – but the fault’s probably more mine than yours. You see, most businessmen I meet up with are just that – men – and, rightly or wrongly, they see their P.A.s as sort of badges, if you see what I mean. There are female bosses and reps, of course, and good luck to that – I’m no sexist, sweetheart, you know that well enough – and there are male P.A.s, and occasionally they’re even straight. But mostly, they’re women, and their employers need them to be – well – smart in the female way, if you know what I mean. If they’re young or at least look it, it suggests they’re also on the ball, in charge of things, able to make an impression. Not that you’re not efficient enough, Linda, I’m not saying that; even now, things still go like clockwork and I love the way you factor in recreation. Busy men do need their recreations, and of course Helen knows that, sophisticated lady that she is; what’s the point of earning all this money if you can’t let your hair down when the day’s done? All work and no play makes Jack, and Malcolm, a dull bastard.

There I go, swearing again. As you know, I’m a bluff, simple guy at heart, a bit rough and ready, and I suppose sometimes you’ve thought to yourself anyway, ‘it’s about time I gave this laddo the push and found someone with a bit more culture, a bit more polish’. And maybe you’d be right. But, because I haven’t really got the public school manners, the posh accent, the bloody quotes from Shakespeare (‘once more into the breach’, I remember that one, because there are battles, aren’t there?) I have to do it other ways, and one way is a really top notch looking P.A., not someone who looks like she’s just come from the school run and hasn’t had time to put her face on properly. Call it my vanity, maybe, the need for people to be as vain as I am.

And, the other thing, the need for people to be, what shall we say, flexible? Not law-breaking, let’s be clear on that one, because even you sometimes try to put words into my mouth. But perhaps just recognising that some rules are more bendy than others, you know what I mean? It’s a big tough world out there and they’re not all fighting Queensberry rules, that’s for sure. If you see the boot heading for your groin, you get out of the way rapido and then get your dig in at him before he has time for another go. Another horrid male metaphor, I know, but if you live in the jungle and try playing nice, you know what happens? You get eaten, that’s what happens, right down to false teeth and booties.

And maybe you’ve earned the right to get out of it, after all these years. I’m filling up here. Thanks for everything, have a nice life, and enjoy your family. Family matters, believe me.

Best of luck,





Very interesting, Malcolm, and done with your usual verve and forthrightness. I know your instinct is to boldly go, and you’ve certainly boldly gone with this one. You may very well be right. You usually are; no-one gets to where you are without a fair dose of being right along the way. Things change – ‘the moving finger writs and, having writ, moves on’. Like you, I’m no Shakespearian, but I have my moments.

But as your current P.A., which I remain for a month’s notice, as I’m sure your knowledge of the legally binding requirements of my contract of employment will remind you, I have a duty to maintain the efficiency which you have been kind enough to compliment. Our usual procedure when you are considering a decision is for me to explain the ramifications and consequences of said decision, beginning with the peripheral issues and progressing to the main points, the meat in the meal, as you so graphically term it.

Firstly, we have to refer to what you endearingly term your recreation. I confess now to something of a lapse in my general conscientious standards; I do have a lamentable habit of leaving mobile phones and recorders hanging about here and there. In fact, I have had the misfortune to become involved with a veritable network of similarly careless individuals in my profession. Bearing in mind that a minute’s demonstration is worth an hour’s explanation, some interesting footage of your recreation in New York can be found here, in Brussels here , and in Paris (oo la la indeed) here.

The Tokyo material had especial interest for me; I didn’t realise they trained Geisha girls to do that.

Moscow has created particular problems; one of the girls here was an agent of whatever they started calling it after they stopped calling it the KGB, and the spooks were so miffed they did pass some of it on into government circles, so I wouldn’t get across any ministers any time soon if I was you. Helen, I think, would probably find it all fascinating; mind you, quite a decent file of footage is available of what she gets up to while you’re away. I’m no sexist either.

However, the meat in this particular meal is probably mostly about two issues in particular. One, payments made illegally to various offshore accounts, including some monies from the Company pension fund; paperwork relating to payments here and statements and account details here.

Two, e-mail and phone communications (silly boy) to do with fairly blatant cases of insider trading; written stuff here, sound and some vision here. The case first referred to would probably be enough to put you inside for a couple of years, but I’m sure you’ll see that as useful life experience, somewhere where you’ve yet to boldly go, and no doubt spiced with lusty prisoners who will introduce you to some new and exciting recreational worlds.

To summarise all that, then, in terms which your bluff, simple guyhood can take on board, my departure from your service will need to be accompanied by terms which reflect your innate generosity and the length of my dedicated service. Otherwise, you are, to précis as succinctly as possible, toast.

Linda Stansfield, P.A.





God - take a joke, can’t you, girl? Lighten up a little! I’ll come clean – big bet from one of my corporate colleagues, didn’t think I’d dare go there. Well, I sort of did, didn’t I? But how could I lose you, lovely Linda, especially now I know you watch over me so carefully. We have lots of things to talk about, and we will, but in the meantime, you just keep doing what you’re doing, stay cool – very cool, Linda, please – and we will just keep right on with our happy and successful association.

Kind regards,






Whatever. You’re booked in first class to Frankfurt, Heathrow, 9.40 tomorrow. Klaus Melke will meet you there and handle the trip. I’m off to Paris with my lovely husband for a few days – family quality time, as you suggest, and there’s going to be more of it in future.

If you and Klaus go recreationing to your usual place, be aware that they’ve got hidden cams everywhere. They are rank amateurs and you’re like as not to finish up on XTube. Always listen to Lindy and you’ll be O.K.






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